Tom Knox: Let’s Make an Ad Career the Easy Sell it Should be Posted on

My stepson recently graduated and, being a bright lad, has managed to land a job at Accenture.

His starting salary is significantly more than the average graduate starting salary offered by advertising agencies (about £22,000, according to the IPA’s numbers) and the level of training that he is receiving is mightily impressive. (Most importantly, his mother is delighted.)

This got me thinking about the importance of recruitment and training in attracting the brightest and best from all backgrounds into our industry.

This issue is particularly top of mind because this week I’m looking forward to speaking at the IPA Foundation Certificate party.

We will be celebrating the record number of 1,079 individuals who have successfully passed the IPA’s primary qualification for people in their first year in advertising.

As Stephen Woodford, the former IPA president who will be forever revered for having put training and continuing professional development (CPD) properly at the top of the agenda, recently said to me: “We still have a very long way to go in the process of professionalising the industry.”

It’s important that, despite all the pressures on margins and the constant demands of right now, the leaders of agencies focus on the long-term need to invest in future talent.

My stepson is exactly the kind of high-quality science graduate that we are crying out for, but he didn’t seriously consider advertising and now has joined an organisation that represents a serious competitive threat to us.

My stepson is the kind of high-quality science grad we are crying out for, but he didn’t consider advertising

The recent IPA Commercial Conference presented tangible proof of the direct benefits to agencies of investing in the training and development of their people. (The research presented showed a commitment to CPD benefits the top line by as much as 15 per cent.)

This week’s recipients of the Foundation certificate should go on to become the most highly qualified, professional and valuable generation of practitioners ever.

They have the good fortune to be entering the business at a time of growth and unprecedented opportunity afforded by technology and innovation.

The landscape is demanding but exciting. In this context, we must continue to invest in training to equip our people with the tools they will need to compete with the Accentures of this world.

So, massive congratulations to all the successful Foundation certificate recipients – you should demand that your agencies continue to invest in you, and the good news is that you have joined an industry that is a million times more creative and stimulating than a management consultancy will ever be.

Tom Knox is the chairman of MullenLowe London and president of the IPA.

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